“VE-gan cheese-CAKE?” That’s the exact inflection from everyone who ever hears of such a wild thing.
It can be done. Cashews, it turns out, are actually very versatile little things that are often used to replace many of your dairy cravings. It can transform into ricotta, milk, cream, frosting, alfredo sauce, other various cheeses, and most importantly – CAKE.
During an unnecessary trip to Target I came upon this three-pack of mini Wilton springform pans, which I obviously had to buy. There’s only two of us in this apartment, and I didn’t want to make a whole cheesecake that would be staring me down every time I opened the freezer, so these little pans were perfect for this recipe.
If you only have one normal-sized springform pan, double the recipe. If you prefer taller mini cheesecakes, divide the portions into two instead of three and forget the last pan.
Since I like my recipes to serve a purpose, even desserts, here’s why this healthified cheesecake is doing good things for you:
- Cashews: Lower in fat than other nuts but still a good source of monounsaturated fat and protein, with antioxidant properties associated with lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease.
- Walnuts: Anti-inflammatory, and rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids (they are essential because our body can’t produce them, we get them from our diet), protein, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin E.
- Maca powder: An herb grown in challenging conditions of the Peruvian mountains, it’s strong and will help you to be strong, too. Its adaptogen properties help you adapt to stress, balance hormones, and gives your libido a little boost, too.
- Cacao powder: A great source of magnesium, which helps us relax and is also a bit of an aphrodisiac (hello date night). It also helps open blood vessels to better deliver nutrients into your cells.
- Coconut oil: Energy-stabilizing brain fuel! This helps add a teeny bit of sweetness without adding more sugar.
This recipe is adapted from raw/vegan chef @mypoortiredliver, who shared a delicious peppermint swirl version over the holidays and most recently, a lavender blueberry version for Valentine’s Day. She’s amazing, check her out.
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 tbsp maca powder
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ¼ cup pitted dates
- 6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1½ cups cashews (soaked at least 4 hours)
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup agave
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp coconut water
- 2 tbsp pomegranate juice
- Pulse walnuts, cacao powder, maca powder, vanilla extract, and salt until crumbly. Add dates and pulse until incorporated, mixture should be sticky. You may have to scrape down the sides.
- Separate crust into three portions and press into the bottoms of mini cheesecake pans, making sure they're even.
- Blend all filling ingredients except pomegranate juice until super smooth, and pour evenly onto the crust. Resist the urge to be a neat freak and scrape it all out, just let it pour naturally.
- NOW you can scrape the extra filling, but scrape it down into the blender, add the pomegranate juice, and give it a whir.
- Either pour the pomegranate mix over the cheesecakes and spread around, or get fancy and make pretty little designs.
- Optional: Sprinkle with vegan chocolate chips (as seen in photo)
- Freeze for 6 hours.
- To serve: These are easily enjoyed right out of the freezer but you may want to give it some time to thaw - this is up to you. There are three, keep on for yourself to experiment with 🙂
Note: A dessert recipe on a nutrition blog? Well, sugar is sugar and we still need to be mindful of our intake, but it’s okay to have dessert as long as you don’t eat the whole thing. Deprivation leads to bingeing, and these cheesecakes help facilitate portion control. I’d say about 1/3 to 1/2 of these mini cakes would = 1 serving. Besides, if we’re going to indulge, we may as well make our food work for us, which is why it’s packed with superfoods.
By the way, we’ll learn to make this recipe and more at my Superfood Desserts class at Fenway Community Center on May 10.